Theme Of Going To Meet The Man

1185 Words 5 Pages
In the short story Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin, we see how a young, open-minded boy can grow into a full-fledged racist based on extensive conditioning. With aspects cultivating from his environment, jealousy and the resulting hatred, as well as the seeming normality behind accepting these beliefs, these are the major reasons that guide Jesse’s development. Through the process of racial conditioning, Jesse goes from a young man with an African American friend, to someone who is not afraid to target anyone based solely on their skin color.
The largest attribution to Jesse’s hatred towards blacks can be found in his environment. In the post-Civil-War south, there is a great deal of anger and bitterness towards colored folk. When
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During the lynching, Jesse does not recognize the black man as a human, “It seemed fully conscious now, as though the fire had burned out terror and pain” (Baldwin 247) However, Jesse was able to focus on the black mans, “scrotum tighten[ing], and huge, huge, much bigger than his father’s, flaccid, hairless, the largest thing he had ever seen till then, and the blackest” (Bladwin 248). Based on the stereotype of genitalia size, the seed has been planted for his animosity towards black people. After witnessing the castration and murder that followed, a young Jesse, “felt his father carried him through a mighty, had revealed to him a great secret which would be the key to his life forever” (Baldwin 248). This experience, in turn, is what the present Jesse needed to stimulate his sexual desire with Grace. He believes that genitalia size is an indicator of one’s success, or manliness in life. With such a gift granted to black men, it is impossible for Jesse (or members of his society) to accept blacks as equals. With “his nature again returning to him”, he told his wife he was going to “do you like a nigger, just like a nigger, come on, sugar, love me just like you’d love a nigger” (Baldwin 249). In this moment of clarity, Jesse views the black man as a threat to the white race, particularly white women. Looking back at the castration of the black man almost …show more content…
In one form or another, we have all been on a picnic of some type. As Jesses family was packing their car, one of the neighbors called to them, “Don’t bother putting up no food… we got enough. Just come on” (Baldwin 242). Nothing seems out of the ordinary with a fellow community member offering to share some of their food. After the family arrived at the “picnic” site, “his mother and father were greeting and being greeted, himself being handled, hugged, and patted, and told how much he had grown” (Baldwin 245) Even as the black man was burning, Jesse’s “father’s hands held him firmly by the ankles (Baldwin 246) A father lifting their son up to get a better view of something is a very classic situation, one that may be important in remembering an important milestone in life. However, instead of getting Jesse a better view of the tiger at the local zoo, he is giving him a clear view of a black man burning alive. After the lynching, all the father could think about was “getting over there and get some of that food before it’s all gone” (Baldwin 249). This town has turned something inhumane into something seemingly normal. It has all the elements of a social gathering. Since the lynching acts as the backdrop of the picnic, it also serves as a foundation for Jesse’s perceptions about what he just witnessed. While at first

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